Major Victory for Worker Recovered Factory “Jugoremedija” in Serbia
Friday, July 11, 2008
Dear comrades, allies, and supporters,
A major victory for worker’s rights and struggles in Serbia has been won following a 9 month factory occupation and a 2 and a half year strike by the workers of Jugoremedija in Zrenjanin, Serbia. On December 14, 2006, the Belgrade Higher Economic Court reaffirmed the June 2006 ruling of the Zrenjanin Economic Court that the recapitalization of the Zrenjanin-based pharmaceutical factory Jugoremedija be repealed because it was carried out illegally through the illegitimate manoeuvres of businessman Jovica Stefanovic Nini to attempt to gain majority ownership. This means that the ownership of the workers has now been restored to their rightful 58% of the company shares. With this decision, Jugoremedija is set to become the first factory amongst the “transition” countries in Eastern Europe undergoing neoliberal privatization to be recovered and controlled by its workers.
The worker – shareholders have called for a shareholders assembly for December 30th at the Jugoremedija premises, in order to appoint a new board and management. But Jovica Stefanovic Nini, who remains owner of 42% of the factory, is now obstructing the enforcement of the Court’s decision and attempting to block the assembly by force. On the same day that the workers sent him an invitation letter to attend the assembly, Stefanovic rehired the same private security forces that provoked the incident in August 2004 while the workers were occupying and protecting the factory premises, which led to the intervention of the Serbian police that forcibly expelled the workers from their factory. Stefanovic has not yet formally responded to the invitation to attend the assembly, but the fully armed private army now stationed around the factory stands as a clear answer.
The workers are determined to go through with the December 30th assembly. This will be the first time they enter their factory in over two years, after they were forcibly evicted by Serbian police and Stefanovic’s private army in August 2004, and then replaced by new employees. In June of 2006, following the lower court decision repealing the illegal recapitalization of Jugoremedija was reached by the Zrenjanin Court, Vladimir Pecikoza, a leader of the Union of Jugoremedija, made assurances on Serbian national television that there will be no revenge or retaliation taken against the workers who have been working for Stefanovic once the workers-shareholders take back their factory.